In March 1815, at the Congress of Vienna, Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia formed the ‘Seventh Coalition’ determined to end the European rule of Napoleon, whom they declared ‘an outlaw’. Upon his return from exile on the island of Elba, Napoleon reassembled an army and successfully fought various minor skirmishes, but was decisively beaten by the Coalition at the battle of Waterloo (18 June), near Brussels, and was banished by the British to the Island of St Helena, where he died six years later. After this ‘Hundred Days War’, the Bourbon King Louis XVIII was restored to the French throne on 8 July and Europe entered a period of comparative peace in which the complex of nations that had constituted Napoleon’s ‘First Empire’ re-emerged. Most important in the reallocations of sovereignty conceived at Vienna was the German Confederation of 39 mostly (but not exclusively) German-speaking states bounded by Prussia in the north and Austria-Hungary in the south. However, in 1866 war broke out between Austria and Prussia over the administration of Schleswig-Holstein (modern Denmark), resulting in the formation of a new Prussia-dominated North German Confederation, later to be called ‘The German Empire’, with the Prussian king as its emperor or ‘Kaiser’. Meanwhile, to the south, Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807–1882) was beginning his military campaign to unify the kingdom of Italy.
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